Things Have Changed – Part 2

Chapel Service

Meridian Speedway

September 30, 2017

Things Have Changed – part 2

Bob Butcher

In Douglas County we talked about how “Truth” today has moved into a new and dangerous realm today in America.  At the time I had not realized that our home church Pastors and close friends were about to embark upon what I would call “part 2, 3, 4 and 5” of my message from Douglas County. 

Bruce and Jason began by speaking on how our nation has moved from our historical path of truth, beliefs, and values to what we see today. This is true especially in the area of church or Christianity.

The foundation of our nation’s laws, our U.S. Constitution, and way of life was the Bible from the beginning in 1776, through the years. But since the 1950’s our beliefs and values have changed.  No more are Biblical values accepted as the norm, as truth, or as the way to treat others.  Instead, the church especially, and its’ standards are mocked, portrayed as intolerant, out of date, and we are called bigots, racists, and even worse!

If you question how we have got here to this point in America, and especially how we can live within a society like this around us; then these next few weeks are for you. 

And, yes, there are direct applications out of scripture that are left for us today to study and follow to survive without compromise to our Biblical Christian faith and standards.  Very clearly we can turn to the Book of Daniel and the first six chapters for a direct example. 

Daniel was a young man who was a devout follower of God and was taken into captivity to a foreign land (the infamous Babylon).

Throughout the Bible, Babylon is portrayed as a worldwide system of thought and practice that stands in deliberate opposition to the ways of God almighty. How did Daniel and his friends respond when pressured to compromise?

 

How Daniel handled his minority status in exile speaks to our times today:

1. will we withdraw from our culture,

2. be assimilated into it, 

3. live as a creative minority declaring the sovereignty of God?

This is a perfect time to get your Bible and read Daniel 1 through 6.  Then follow along our live video broadcasts on your IPod, Smartphone, or computer.  You can go to our website www.BeyondCheckeredFlags.com, or to our church website www.cothcommunity.com, or even on www.youtube.com

That is part one of my “call to you,” or maybe “challenge”… if that drives you more, … toward the goal of standing strong in your faith.

The very first choice one needs to make is if one believes in God first, and then, next, whether the Bible is His authoritative word?  Then, is it still relevant today?  To help you with that issue I brought you a copy of a magazine from Billy Graham that has the most informative information that is right before your eyes and all the research is done for you.  It would take me over a year to teach even part of what is in that magazine.

That brings me to part two of my challenge:

Part two is at least skimming through the “Decision” magazine from Billy Graham I passed out at church at Meridian Speedway.  It starts on page 8.  This may be the simplest and therefore best study and info on how the Bible came about and why it STILL is the only standard God clearly set forth for every single person ever born to stand upon no matter the culture, generation, nation, or other criteria. 

In case you were not there you can get a free copy of the magazine “Decision” dated September 2017 from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association by calling 1-877-247-2426. Or, it can be found online at: www.billygraham.org/decision with a bit of research.

 

Now, back to today’s message:

Ponder some of these thoughts:   (*and there are lots more at the end of the message)

 

There have been three major shifts in our modern times:

  1. Protestant Christianity has shifted from majority to minority.
  2. Christian thought has moved from the center to the fringe.
  3. Christian culture has moved from respected to disrespected.

This opens the door to our choices today.  If we put our trust into our government or President being a Christian and that will solve everything; …then we are fooling ourselves.  Like Daniel, we live in an exiled world around us and we better deal instead with our knowledge of truth and build our strength in God’s plan instead of compromise in the middle of being identified as idiots, racists, and bigots.

Listen to what the Apostle Peter had to say to those under Roman Empire domination/exile in his day:  “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the unbelievers that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” 1 Peter 2:11-12

We cannot get away from this today, but at the same time we are not yet into severe torture, murder, beating, etc. like in so many countries of the world are today.  Here’s what Peter said about this: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5: 8-9

One thing to remember and plan for:  Teach & set an example for our kids.  They are the goal of the enemy.  We can keep them in our parental Christian bubble as kids growing up, but there comes a day when they leave our protection.  That’s when it’s too late.  It’s the same with grandkids.  We have got to build a strong foundation in them for the world that is getting worse day by day out there.  It’s possible. Daniel is a great example for us. His belief in God’s ability to lead, guide, & protect him never waivered.

So please; set you goal to spend and hour these next five weeks to watch this series of messages. The series is called “The Story” and go to Chapter 5.

I will post them on our website where you can connect directly.  Or you can choose any of the following links.

From our home church (Church On The Hill in Salem, Oregon):

Week 1:   The Story – 5-1 “Things Have Changed”

http://www.cothcommunity.com/5-1

(There are printed notes below from week 1)

 Week 2:   The Story – 5-2 “No Compromise”

       http://www.cothcommunity.com/5-2

(There are printed notes below from week 2)

On YouTube the link is:

 Week 1:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHmgAI060pQ&feature=youtu.be

 Week 2:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_RNd79W2to

 

*Finally, as mentioned at the beginning here are some notes to ponder from:

Notes from week 1: Things Have Changed

– “Living In A Foreign Land”

Psalms 137: 1-4 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.  There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”  How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?

Acts 1: 1-15:  12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.  15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)

“As our world becomes more secular (going public with practiced unbelief), it is forcing Evangelicals to acknowledge the reality of what statisticians have known for awhile: We are not a religious majority but, instead, we are a convictional minority.” – Ed Stetzer from Shifting Leadership Trends…

There have been three major shifts in our modern times:

  1. Protestant Christianity has shifted from majority to minority.
  2. Christian thought has moved from the center to the fringe.
  3. Christian culture has moved from respected to disrespected.

Daniel 1: 1-7: In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia[a] and put in the treasure house of his god.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.  The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

1 Peter 1: 1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

1 peter 2: 11-12:  Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He arrives.

“Exile implies much more than simple geographical dislocation.  It can be a cultural and spiritual condition as well.  It is the experience of knowing one is an alien and perhaps even in a hostile environment where the dominant values run counter to one’s own.” – Lee Beach from “Living in Hope After Christendom”

 

Dangerous Responses to Exile:

  1. Withdrawal & Separation
  2. Syncretism & Assimilation

 

Syncretism = The blending of two or more religious systems of belief and tradition that actually creates a new system of belief and behavior; …”A third world”

 

We Must Realize We Are In Good Company – With fellow exiles throughout history & the world

 

1 Peter 5: 8-9:  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

We Must Examine Our Own Lives – To see if we are seeking “The God Who Is” VS “The God We Want”

Ephesians 3: 20-21:  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Jeremiah 29: 4-7:  This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

“A creative minority is not easy because it involves maintaining strong links with the outside world while staying true to your faith, seeking not merely to keep the sacred flame burning, but also to transform the larger society of which you are a part. What Jeremiah was saying was that it is possible to survive in exile with your identity intact, your appetite for life undimished, while contributing to the wider society and praying to God on its behalf.  Jeremiah was introducing into history a highly consequential idea: the idea of a creative minority.” – Jonathan Sacks / Rabbi

 

Notes from week 2:  Things Have Changed – “No Compromise”

1 Peter 2: 9: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  As a result, you can show others the goodness of God.  (GBB)

Compromise = To give into or accept standards that we know are lower than desireable.

Strategies of Babylon:

  1. Separate us from our community
  2. Reshape our story & history
  3. Integrate us into the masses
  4. Rename us

Daniel 1: 8-10: But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink.Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

Defile = to allow oneself to be stained or polluted.

Daniel 1: 11-16: Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

Note that I separated these verses that are in order to highlight the results recorded between them.  Its the results of God being in charge and blessing their obedience and faith.

Daniel 1: 17-21:  To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

Note that I separated these verses that are in order to highlight the results recorded between them.  Its the results of God being in charge and blessing their obedience and faith.

18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar.19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.  21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.

This is the album cover from Keith Green’s “No Compromise” – 1976 – (Daniel 3:1-30)

“No Compromise is what the whole Gospel of Jesus is all about… For I tell you…no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). In a day when believers seem to be trying to please both the world and the Lord (which is the impossible thing), when people are far more concerned about offending their friends than offending God, there is only one answer… deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him! (Luke 9:23)”    – Keith Green

 

As Christians we find ourselves like exiles today almost as the Israelites were, however here is what God said to them through His Prophet Jeremiah, and we should live the same way:

Jeremiah 29: 4-7:  This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

 

“So you can be a minority, living in a country whose religion, culture, and legal system is not your own, and yet sustain your identity, live your faith, and yet contribute to the common good exactly as Jeremiah said…   

It isn’t easy.  It demands a complex finessing of identities.  It involves a willingness to live in a state of cognitive discord.  It isn’t for the fainthearted, but it is creative!” Jonathan Sacks – “On Creative Minorities”

 

Romans 12: 1-2:  So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

 

“The early church was strikingly different from the culture around it in this way – the pagan society was stingy with its money and promiscuous with its body.  A pagan gave nobody their money but practically gave everybody their body.  And the Christians came along and gave practically nobody their body and they gave practically everybody their money.”  – Timothy Keller – Pastor

 

James 1: 26-27:  Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

1 Corinthians 10: 23-24:   “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

Ephesians 3: 20-21:  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Bibliography:

Extra Notes for week 1 & 2:

Church On The Hill, Salem Oregon

Pastor Bruce Stefanik

Pastor Jason Treadwell

Scripture Passages are NIV or The Message unless noted GBB

No Compromise picture and Keith Green Quote by Sparrow Recordings 1976

 

2017-09-28T12:52:39+00:00